Today I came home from work and ate a slice of this cake with a glass of wine for dinner. It was one of those days that I’m really happy I’m an adult and can do such things. Tomorrow’s adventure with my skinny jeans will be a different story. In the mean time, we have skillet cake to discuss.
This is a cake for people who can’t even deal. For people who, like me, just got back from a long day at the office and can’t imagine layers or ganache or any of that fancy stuff; for people who just want chocolate cake, quick and messy. Skillets are easy, add fun presentation, and create a nice crunchy crust you can’t obtain in a regular cake pan. You can adapt any basic cake recipe to be prepared this way and that’s what I love about it. Try it and please don’t get mad at me when you find yourself eating it for dinner. Enjoy!
I know a lot of people who freak out when they see shortening among ingredients. It’s okay. You can use butter if it bothers you that much. I know shortening has a bad rep but I did find some organic vegetable shortening at the market without transfat and all that other nasty stuff. Besides, shortening reminds me of the the Help and I rather enjoyed that book.
Using a heavy, cast iron skillet (as opposed to stainless steel) is what gives you that lovely crust. I highly recommend it. Grease the bottom and sides liberally with butter and then line with parchment paper. I trace the pan on the parchment paper with pencil and cut it out first to make it fit perfectly.
Espresso powder is optional in this recipe, you can omit if you don’t have it handy; but it gives the cake a little extra oomph. Use unsweetened cocoa powder and a high quality dark chocolate (look for 60-72% cacao on the label). You can buy it in bars but I found it in little chunks, which saved me from having to chop it.
Pour some very hot (almost simmering) water into the chocolate ingredients and do nothing for one minute. Let the ingredients heat up first, then take your whisk and blend it until smooth.
Beat the butter and shortening until combined, then add vanilla and sugars. Add each egg one at a time. I just realized you can see my head on the bowl in this picture. And yes, that is Darth Vader on my KitchenAid. I’m a nerd.
Add the flour in 3 increments, alternating with the buttermilk.
Beat mixture until it has this consistency.
Pour batter into prepared skillet and smooth it out with a spatula.
Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler and let it cool before adding to butter and confectioner’s sugar.
You can toast some almonds while you wait.
And now, a warning about skillets. After 40-45 minutes, when your toothpick comes out clean; your cake is ready. DO NOT be tempted to grab the skillet by it’s handle without an oven mitt. That would be bad. While you let the cake cool for about 15 minutes, DO NOT be tempted to grab that skillet handle. It still would be bad. That skillet will be hot for a while so be careful. I ended up wrapping the handle with a thick kitchen towel just in case. To speed up the cooling process, go around the edges of the cake with a knife and flip the cake onto another cooling rack.
Be patient. Clean up your crumb coated mess until your cake is completely cool.
Put the cake back in the skillet for serving, add the frosting and toasted almonds (if using) and snack away!
Chocolate Skillet Snacking Cake
Makes 1 10-inch Skillet Cake
- 2 oz (60-72%) cacao dark chocolate or dark chocolate chunks, chopped
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)
- 3/4 cup very hot (almost simmering) water
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp vegetable shortening (can be substituted with butter)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 oz (60-72% cacao) dark chocolate, chopped
- Toasted Almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch skillet and line with greased parchment paper.
Whisk together cocoa powder, espresso powder (if using) and dark chocolate. Add water and let it rest for about a minute. Then whisk until chocolate is thoroughly combined and smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Using your mixer, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy (about 2 minutes). Add brown sugar, sugar and vanilla extra and beat another 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add one egg at a time, beating until combined. Pour in reserved chocolate mixture and beat on the lowest setting until just combined. Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat until everything is combined and pour mixture into prepared skillet. Smooth the surface of the cake with a spatula.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Immediately transfer cake to a cooling rack to cool for about 15 minutes. BE SURE TO USE OVEN MITTS. The handle of your skillet will be insanely hot, don’t be tempted to grab it without oven mitts. Run a knife around the sides of the cake and flip it out onto the cooling rack. Flip the cake right side up and let it rest until completely cooled. Don’t be tempted to frost too early or the frosting will melt right off.
While the cake is baking, make the frosting. Beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until combined, about 2 more minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined. Using a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth. Let it cool and then add to the mixture. Beat until the frosting is combined.
Once the cake has cooled, carefully place it back into the skillet. Liberally frost the top with a spatula and sprinkle with toasted almonds, if using.
Adapted from Baked Explorations